I am also a “gun guy”. I’ve trained for and competed in a variety of amateur shooting sports, such as IPSC, IDPA, 3-Gun, and even SASS events. I’ve trained under several well-known, and highly regarded firearms instructors. Finally, I helped establish and lead an armed (lethal) security team for a church in Colorado at a time when tensions surrounding mass-shootings were high after several such incidents, including a few at large church facilities.
Why did I tell you all of that? Not to brag, but I do enjoy talking about all of that stuff. The reason I tell you that is so you understand my perspective, which is directly influenced by my life experiences.
So on to the product: SALT, The Pepper Spray Gun. It's easy to see that opinions on this product are very polarizing. There is a misunderstanding, perhaps, that non-lethal defense options are only suited for “anti-gun people” or that the “gun people” would/should never respond to any defense scenario with anything less than the largest bore firearm they can come up with. I personally believe both of those positions are flawed. The pendulum swings to two extremes, but reality is often found somewhere in the middle.
If you are, in fact, “anti-gun” or a “non-gun person” - for whatever reason - your options are indeed limited. The SALT Gun is likely your best option for home defense - and the SALT will cover your needs in more scenarios than owning only a firearm will. Why? Because the vast majority of bumps in the night are NOT from a machete-wielding horror-movie-murderer coming in to kill you. They are drunk neighbors trying to come into the wrong house. They are angry aggressors who want to fight. They are animals knocking over the trash can. They are kids trying to break into your car. They are (often unarmed) burglars hoping nobody is home and looking to take your TV, not your life. And… They are your own teenage kids or spouse coming home unexpectedly in the middle of the night.
SALT is better suited for all of these situations than a firearm. None of these are situations that would normally require employing deadly force to resolve - even if they turn into situations where you become personally threatened. And in the small likelihood that there actually is an intruder intent on harming or killing you, SALT is capable of reversing them in their tracks. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of the SALT. The military strength combination of tear gas and pepper spray in the SALT rounds will shut down a recipient's vision and impair their breathing. You don't even have to hit them with the round for it to be effective because it's designed to deploy a cloud that hangs in the air. I don't care who you are… When you can't see, and you can't breathe, you are going to think twice about continuing your current course of action. And if you happen to hit them with the round itself -ouch! I've seen the marks left behind. If you've ever been hit with a paintball going 300fps, then you know how bad that hurts, and those are gelatinous (meaning they are designed to be as soft as possible and easily break). The SALT rounds aren't quite so friendly. They are unlikely to cause severe or long term damage, but they will get someone’s attention.
I mentioned the use of force continuum before. For those of you not familiar with that term, its primary a law enforcement thing but in a nutshell it's a concept that you should respond with the minimum amount of force necessary to resolve the situation. It's not appropriate to respond with deadly force to an aggressor that hasn’t the ability or opportunity to kill or severely harm you. It's a complicated discussion because, yes, it's possible to need to respond with deadly force even when your attacker has no weapon. Each circumstance is unique and dynamic. There is no easy button for this. If all you have is a lethal firearm, you are limited in when you can apply that force. You must wait until you are confident that your life, or someone else's, is in imminent jeopardy. What about every other situation? Sure, the firearm makes a strong deterrent, but it's not always the right tool for the job. If all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail. Every defensive situation becomes a test of decision-making and a waiting game for that moment when it becomes acceptable - both morally and legally - to take a life. Why should you limit your defensive options unnecessarily? That’s one reason that I believe the SALT Gun is just as relevant for gun owners as non-gun owners. I’m not saying you should ditch your legally owned and carried firearms for a non-lethal alternative, but I am suggesting that you consider having non-lethal options.
As a retired LEO, I often have a firearm on my person or within reach. That does not mean that it is the first thing I go to when trouble is afoot. In fact, it’s the last thing I ever want to have to bring into play. I’ll leverage other options when I can…first and foremost is a consideration of whether or not I can get out of the situation. That’s always option number one. Retreat. Things change when you are in a home defense situation, of course. Disengaging isn’t quite so simple when you are already in your own home.
If you enter my house, you will risk an introduction to one of my firearms, but I’ll also be considering every option available to me at that moment in time. My goal is to get you out of my home, not to capture you, not to hurt you, and certainly not to kill you. If I can achieve that by firing a handful of SALT rounds into the wall in the hallway between you and me to create a chemical barrier while announcing that I am armed and calling the police, then I am okay with that. If you decide to continue to advance – eyes and lungs burning – I’m even willing to put a couple of SALT rounds into your chest. My expectation is that you will realize you are making a huge mistake, and that you will reconsider your original plan. Past that, well, I’ve made the decision many years ago that I will use deadly force to protect my life or the life of another innocent person.
The interesting thing about the scenario I brainstormed with you just now is that for the first engagement, I don’t even have to know who you are. I don’t need to know if you are armed. I don’t need to identify my target. I can take action immediately with a non-lethal option, whereas a lethal response requires much more due diligence. I can turn you around and resolve a potential conflict having never even seen you or your hands. You don’t have to have a weapon, and my life didn’t have to be in imminent jeopardy. I know some of you right now are thinking, “But what about Castle Doctrine?” My response is this. First, Castle Doctrine isn’t a viable defense in all jurisdictions – so make sure you know the law where you live. Second, and more important in my opinion, is just because you have a potential criminal defense for shooting someone in your own home (or vehicle in some states), doesn’t mean you should consider it as a free pass to take a life. There are very serious moral, civil, and financial implications to consider as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said it before. I will employ lethal force if I have to, but not just because I am “allowed” to.
Some more quick thoughts before I wrap up this novel I apparently decided to write. ;-)
Pepper balls have been useful in the law enforcement community as a non-lethal option. You see them used in riot and barricade situations. Tear gas is often used as a means to induce compliance in law enforcement and military operations, and it works. Police Officers use pepper spray often to take control of a combative person. It works. It (typically) doesn’t require any special licensing or special training -- although I encourage everyone to practice with whatever defensive tool they choose. SALT does come with practice rounds for this purpose. What I really like about SALT is that you can deploy it from a safe distance. You don’t have to be within traditional pepper spray range of a few yards. You can send the payload down range to the intended target while maintaining a safe distance and remaining near protective cover. SALT can be leveraged in homes where firearm possession isn’t legally an option (whatever the reason). It’s not heavy. It’s easy to operate. It can be stored in a ready-to-go condition. It has a safety. It can be stored in a drawer by the bed rather than in a safe. These are my observations.
I’m not going to try and convince gun owners that having the SALT gun is a better choice for them, and I’m not going to try and convince non-gun owners that the SALT gun will provide the same level of defense as a firearm. What I will say is that it is an option worth pursuing by both groups. In the end, it’s an option. It’s another tool for the toolbox. And you have to decide for yourself if it it’s the right tool for you.
Now that I have said what I have to say, none of what I have stated should be construed as legal advice. I’m some random guy on the Internet that you’ve never met. I encourage everyone to consider their own self-defense requirements, taking into consideration personal risk thresholds and civil, criminal, and moral implications. I encourage everyone to practice whatever they decide to use for self-defense, and get training from an expert in the defensive weapon of choice. This is what I think based on my training and experience,. Stay safe.